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The University of Arkansas Cossatot was recently awarded for Improving Institutional Efficiencies with for their Textbook Program by the Arkansas Department of Higher Education. Instead of renewing a lease with a book vendor, the college created its own textbook program.

The Arkansas Department of Higher Education Coordinating Board met for a regularly scheduled meeting at the Arkansas Department of Higher Education office on Oct. 26. During the meeting, ADHE Director Maria Markham announced the 2018 Closing the Gap Awards. As an effort to bring these best practices to the forefront, Arkansas higher education institutions' presidents and chancellors were invited to submit successful programs that can be implemented on a broader scale and to generate more innovative strategies. The department received more than 75 submissions in the categories of increased student completion, support for adult learners, increased institutional efficiencies and support for under-served minority students. Entries were judged on innovative implementation, creative solutions, increased outcomes and delivering value to stakeholders.

The UA Cossatot Textbook Rental/Open Educational Resource program has saved students $1,047,949.00 in the past three years. UA Cossatot is the first two-year college in Arkansas to

initiate a textbook program along these lines and has the highest percentage of OER supported courses in the state.

The program was created in 2015 with the sole purpose of removing barriers to education for students. Forty percent of classes at UA Cossatot do not require a textbook and instead use OER materials to supplement instruction. For the remaining 60 percent of courses, students pay a $30 rental fee per course to rent required books.

"Our college decided three years ago that we needed to make college even more affordable for our students," Dr. Steve Cole, UA Cossatot chancellor stated in a press release.

"To accomplish that, we designed a textbook program that features a combination of Open Educational Resources and book rentals," he said. "In fact, over 40 percent of our classes require no formal textbook at all. We are also proud to be the first college in Arkansas to be a member of the Open Textbook Network. At a savings of over $1 million for our students, we are extremely honored with this award and will continue to research innovative ways for students to be successful on our campus."

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